October 6, 2021

Rising Waters: Community Displacement from Vanport to East Portland

Creative Placekeeping

Rising Waters: Community Displacement from Vanport to East Portland
Date: 2017
Location: Vanport Festival, Vanport and Rosewood Initiative, East Portland
Collaborators: Tamara Lynne (Living Stages), Donovan Smith (Ignorant Reflections), Laquida Landford, and Black Sun Collective

Rising Waters was a collaboration between Tamara Lynne (Living Stages), Donovan Smith (Ignorant Reflections), and Laquida Landford to expand the conversation about gentrification to help amplify the voices and experiences of those in Portland who have been repeatedly and systematically displaced. Working with Black Sun Collective, a team of African American artists and performers, the project initiated a two-weekend play development process to explore issues of displacement of Portland’s African American community, beginning with the Vanport Flood of 1948. A new movement and rhythm-based play was created that re-enacted the story of the Vanport community, drawing on experiences of the performers. This play was performed alongside an interactive forum scene telling the present-day story of community displacement caused by rising rents. Together, this performance was presented on Memorial Day as part of the Bike Forum Theatre at the Vanport Festival at the Expo Center, the location of historic Vanport. The performance was preceded by a bike tour of former Vanport, led by Laquida Landford and Donovan Smith. After the conclusion of the performance on-site at former Vanport, the collaborators returned with several performers to East Portland Rosewood Initiative to offer an interactive workshop and conversation about community displacement based on the experience of creating and performing the play. The goal of the workshop and conversation was to connect the issue of displacement of communities impacted by the Vanport Flood in 1948 with the present day displacement happening to communities in East Portland.